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Rain keeps shoppers off the high street in July while shopping centres benefit

Tom Bottomley
03 August 2023

Footfall across all UK retail destinations declined by -0.3% from 2-29 July 2023, compared to a rise of 3.7% in June, with constant downpours seeing high streets as the worst affected destination, down -1.7%.

Meanwhile, July’s footfall in shopping centres was up 1.7% compared to June, as shoppers took cover from the rain – in stark contrast to June’s record breaking heatwave. Retail parks (including outlet sites) also had a slight uptick, with footfall rising 0.7% in July, according to the latest data from retail experts MRI Springboard.

Other key findings include:

  • This is the first July since MRI Springboard started publishing its data in 2009 that footfall was lower than in June.
  • The rises in footfall in retail parks and shopping centres were more subdued than in July in previous years; since 2009 the average increase in footfall from June to July in retail parks has been +2.4% and +2.5% in shopping centres.
  • Footfall across UK retail destinations rose annually by 2.1% in July versus +4.2% in June. In high streets footfall was just 1.2% ahead of July 2022 versus an annual rise of 5.2% in June 2022. In retail parks the annual uplift from 2022 held steady at +1.8% for the second month, and in shopping centres it narrowed slightly to +4.1% from +4.4% in June.
  • The gap from pre-Covid pandemic footfall level widened to -12.1% in July from -8.6% in June; in high streets the gap widened to -15.5% from -10.3% in June, in shopping centres the gap widened marginally from -13.3% to -14.9% in June and in retail parks it widened to -1.6% from -0.04% in June.
  • Over the decade to 2019, the average month on month rise in footfall from June to July was +3.4%.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at MRI Springboard, said: “The greater impact on footfall in high streets is in part likely to be due to the rain, as shoppers tend to gravitate towards either the covered environments of shopping centres or retail parks as they are easier to access by car.

“There was also likely to be an additional impact on high streets, caused by some employees opting to work from home on the days when rail overtime bans occurred.”

Additionally, Wehrle said that July’s overall poor footfall “demonstrated the harsh reality of the impact of interest rate rises on consumers.”

Looking ahead, Wehrle commented: “With the fourth quarter of the year looming, and many holidays either paid for or taken, it is inevitable that consumers’ attention will now turn towards planning for Christmas spending, which may well dampen footfall further in the latter part of the summer.”

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